Leigh Centurions 72-6 Hunslet Hawks
Report by James Morris
Hunslet suffered their second heavy defeat in the space of four days when they visited the Leigh Sports Village to take on the reigning champions.
After Sunday’s 68-6 mauling at the hands of their Yorkshire rivals the Bradford Bulls, head coach Barry Eaton would have no doubt liked to have had a full week to prepare for Sunday’s crunch clash at bottom of the table Doncaster.
However, due to Leigh’s prolonged involvement in the Challenge Cup, this round 13 match was moved to Wednesday, resulting in the Hawks facing the two best sides in the competition in the same week.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Hunslet to get a result against the full time Centurions and the gulf in class between the two was visible for all to see.
Leigh fullback, Greg McNally, helped himself to five tries on the night in what at times seemed like a training ground run.
Eaton made nine changes to the side that was beaten by the Bulls, giving run outs to: Marcus Elliot, Callum Casey, Vinny Finigan, Danny Ansell, Robbie Ward, Charlie Martin, Matthew Tebb, Mark Castle, Lewis Reed.
Jordan Lilley, Richie Barnett, Danny Maun, Danny Grimshaw, Michael Haley, Jack Lee, Josh Walters, George Flanagan and Aaron Lyons dropped out of the squad.
Leigh looked fired up from the start, offloading in the tackle whenever possible and they opened the scoring after just six minutes.
A Martin Ridyard 40/20 camped the Centurions 10 metres from the Hawks line and on the following set some basketball like skills between Fuifui Moimoi and Jamie Acton sent McNally in for the first of his five.
Ridyard then went over for the home side, supporting a Matt Sarsfield break before Micky Higham burrowed his way over from dummy half.
Leigh were scoring at over a point a minute in the opening period and they kept up this scoring rate when Kurt Haggerty sliced through some weak Hawks’ defence.
Hunslet had hardly ventured over the halfway line 20 minutes into the game and Paul Rowley’s ruthless side continued to pile the misery on Hunslet when McNally dived over for his second before Sarsfield raced 50 metres up field to put his side 34-0 up after just 29 minutes.
Former Wigan player Martin Aspinwall then came off the bench to crash over the Hunslet line.
Sarsfield then completed the first half scoring, doubling his personal tally in the process, making the score 46-0 at half time.
Eaton would have no doubt hoped that his side could limit their opponents scoring in the second period and they competed much more evenly in the opening moments of the half.
However, Leigh continued to rack up the points when McNally completed his hat trick in the 47th minute before Liam Kay scored arguably the try of the night when he raced 80 metres up field after some wonderful interplay with Tom Armstrong.
The Hunslet side must have been wishing for the final whistle to come by this point but Micky Higham scored his second of the night after McNally had dived over for his fourth and fifth tries of the match.
The Hawks then gave their fans, who never stopped singing the entire match, something to cheer.
Callum Casey broke through the Leigh defence, drew McNally and offloaded to Mufaro Mvududu who gratefully put the ball down to applause from both sets of supporters.
It would be the home side who had the final say in the game though, Kay diving on a grubber to the corner to complete the scoring.
Hunslet face three of their relegation rivals in the final games before the Super Eights split, beginning with Doncaster away this Sunday (12 July 2015).
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pala, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Higham, Acton, Haggerty, Sarsfield, Barlow. Interchange: Beswick, Spencer, Aspinwall, Wilkes.
Hunslet: Elliot, Agoro, Casey, Mvududu, Finigan, Brown, Ansell, Mulhern, Ward, Houston, Gee, Marton, Trout. Interchange: Tebb, Castle, Reed, Backhouse.